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Series: Masterpiece
Allegiance: Maximal
Year: 2016

Prelude: The official name of this figure is Convoy (Beast Wars), as the Japanese just went with their standard name for the good guy leader. Of course in the West we know this guy as Optimus Primal and this is the name I will use to refer to the figure in this review.

Robot Mode: Beast Wars set new standards when it came to how closely the toys represented the characters on the TV screen and Beast Wars Ultra-Class Optimus Primal was already a very, very good match. The Masterpiece figure, though, isn’t satisfied with being a good match, it wants to a be a perfect match, a spitting image. And in that it has very much succeeded, as this figure here seems to have stepped right out of the screen. It’s about Voyager-sized, meaning a bit smaller than the original BW toy, but that just means he is nicely scaled. In terms of resemblance to the TV character, he blows all of his predecessors right out of the water.

Primal comes with every single gimmick seen in the TV show, all of them faithfully recreated. The plasma cannons in both arms, the over-the-shoulder mega-blasters, and his two Cyber Swords, which he can store on the back, too. Sure, the swords can’t be stored inside the figure and remain there for the transformation into gorilla mode, but that is a small compromise for much better-looking, more accurate swords. Also MP Primal has one gimmick from the TV that the original figure didn’t have, the Prime Jets on his back which would allow him to fly. Nicely done.

The one thing where the designers did drop the ball a little in my opinion is the faces. Primal comes with four interchangeable faces, which works great, but why not include a mutant face here as well to pay homage to one of the early Beast Wars figures’ sillier gimmicks? Oh well, Primal has a neutral face, smirking face, angry face, and one with a closed mouth plate for battle mode. There is room for two batteries in Primal’s ape head and by pressing down on the robot head you can make his eyes light up. Not something I really needed, but it’s nice and doesn’t impede the figure any.

The figure is very nicely articulated, the only slight downside being the knees. Oh, they bend perfectly all right, but when you bend them a hole opens up directly underneath the kneecap, which looks a bit strange. Finally, the Asian release of the figure comes with another accessory harking back to the original figure. A die cast metal mace, reminiscent of the one BW Primal stored in his forearm and never once used on TV, is included in a cardboard box painted to look like a crate of bananas. Hilariously the box has a warning printed on it that it is merely an accessory and does not transform.

Overall Optimus Primal is as close to a perfect replica of the robot seen on TV as one can possibly imagine. He has all the gimmicks (except for the Mutant Face, sadly), looks really cool, and has no flaws worth mentioning. Two thumbs up!

Alternate Mode: Optimus Primal transforms into a grey gorilla (not a munkee!) and once again this form is a spitting image of the big ape we saw in the TV series. The gorilla has been very faithfully recreated here and the transformation is a little bit different than it was for the Ultra-class toy in that the ape head isn’t simply a plate sitting in front of the robot mode head, but a completely separate head, allowing for neck articulation. Primal’s proportions are also very ape-like with shortened legs and long arms. He is fully articulated in this mode as well and can easily stand upright or go down on all fours, no problem.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that you can still see the white robot thighs on the back of Primal’s gorilla legs, but I don’t know how that could have been changed without completely redesigning the figure. Just like the robot the ape also comes with exchangeable faces, three this time. You get a neutral, a happy, and an angry face to choose from. So bottom line, a great ape mode. Not sure I will transform him that often, as some of the edges of the plastic panels seem prone to wear, but a great engineering feat nonetheless. Thumbs up.

Remarks: In 1996 Beast Wars revitalized the almost-dead Transformers franchise in a big way and leading the charge was Optimus Primal, the lead character in the TV show and the biggest, baddest, most intricate toy in line’s first wave. Optimus got upgrades (read: new toys) several times during the Beast Era, but his first and longest-lived incarnation is the one most people remember, so it was a given that he would be the one picked for the very first Masterpiece figure from the Beast Wars portion of the Transformers.

And the label Masterpiece is well and truly deserved here. Not only is Primal a superb figure in his own right, he also scales well with other recent Beast Wars figures such as RhinoxRattrapWaspinator, and Blackarachnia. The only slight downside and the reason for that minus behind the A-rating is that some of the plastic edges already show a tiny bit of wear, making me somewhat weary of the overall quality. Other than that, though, no complaints at all. A must-have for every Beast Wars fan.

Rating: A-
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